Research at UFV Geography: Overview

UFV Geography faculty and students are engaged in a wide diversity of research projects, most notably in the fields of long-term environmental change and sustainable environmental, urban, and economic development.

These research projects have involved a large number of undergraduate and graduate research students, and research skills are a core part of undergraduate training. Geography faculty have attracted external funding for research, post-doctoral fellows, and internships. Please contact the Department Head Steven Marsh if you have any questions about UFV Geography's research facilities or projects.
Click for more information on the following:
Profiles in Research
Teaching through Research
Geography Teaching and Research Facilities
Research Projects

Profiles in Research

Olav Lian, 2012 UFV Research Excellence Award Recipient
Congratulations to Dr. Olav Lian, the winner of the first ever UFV Research Excellence Award, for 2012. Dr. Lian's record of researchin Quaternary geology and geomorphology, and geochronology, much of it conducted in the UFV Luminesence Dating Laboratory, has involved undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and partnerships with colleagues at numerous other universities and government institutions.

Dr. Lian's students have won many institutional, regional, national, and international awards for their research under his direction. These have included three NSERC Alexander Graham Bell scholarships and the Farouk El-Baz Student Award from the Geologic Society of America, which was awarded to Olav's Honours student, Justine Cullen, in 2010 - the first time this award has ever been given to an undergraduate student. Dr. Lian recently secured up to three years of funding from the Tula Foundation (Hakai Network) to support one of UFV's two post-doctoral fellows joining Geography in 2012 - the first two post-docs ever at the institution, and in the fall of 2012 he will visit the Geography Department at Durham University in England as a "Distinguished International Visitor." Congratulations, Olav!

Lenore Newman, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Environment
Dr. Lenore Newman joined UFV Geography in 2011 as the CRC in Food Security and Environment. Dr. Newman came to UFV from Royal Roads University, where she'd been involved in master's program in environmental management. Lenore's research involves the study of Canada's food cultures, including the threats they face due to environmental change. Lenore is also interested in urban food markets, and is currently investigating a research trajectory into suburban-agricultural interface zones. Dr. Newman will also be supervising the second of UFV Geography's post-doctoral fellows for the 2012-2013 year.

Teaching Through Research

UFV Geography faculty members utilize community and peer-reviewed research as part of a broader approach to undergraduate education. Volunteer, course-based, and work-study placements in Geography facilities and as part of faculty research projects enable students to build the skills and independence they will need for further graduate study and employment. Many geography courses also incorporate inquiry-based learning strategies, which involve students in active data collection, problem solving, and information modelling as a means of answering bigger questions.

Geography students are also encouraged to attend regional and national conferences in order to hear about research in their field. Many UFV Geography students have also presented the findings of their research at conferences, in particular the annual meeting of the Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers, hosted every March by a university or college in BC or Alberta. Attending professional conferences also allows students to network with immediate and senior colleagues in their field of study.

Students who are planning to continue to graduate school are encouraged to complete an Honours degree. This option is available for both BA and BSc majors, and involves an undergraduate research thesis requirement. For more information on the Honours program, click here.

Geography Teaching and Research Facilities

UFV Geography is home to two teaching and research laboratories: the UFV Paleoecology Lab and the UFV Luminescence Dating Lab.

Paleoecology Lab
Directed by Dr. Jonathan Hughes, research in the Paleoecology Lab focuses on the response of vegetation to past earthquakes, fires, floods, climate change, and anthropogenic modification of the landscape. Dr. Hughes and his students use pollen, plant macrofossils, and tree rings to quantify the abundance and distribution of vegetation in the past and how plant communities were influenced by changing environmental conditions.

Luminescence Dating Laboratory
The Geography Department at UFV is the home of a luminescence dating laboratory, currently the only one of its kind in western Canada. Under the direction of Dr. Olav Lian, this NSERC-funded laboratory serves as a nexus for faculty, undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral research in Quaternary geology and geomorphology.

Research Projects

Development and Health

  • Projects in sustainable economic and social development, working with university partners in India and Tanzania (Fehr and Enns)
  • Child-to-Child health education (Fehr)
  • Child Friendly Cities (Enns)
  • Understanding the impact of natural disasters on informal settlements (Enns)

Long-term environmental, landscape, and climate change

  • Climate modeling (Pandolfo)
  • Paleoecological studies in coastal BC (Hughes and Lian)
  • Long-term landscape change in western Canada and the Canadian Arctic (Lian)
  • Fraser River flood histories, wetland ecologies, and environmental change in the Fraser Lowland (Hughes)
  • Monitoring the geochemistry and quality of the Fraser River and its tributaries as part of the Global Rivers Project (Marsh and Ehrenbrink)
  • Fire histories in the southern Okanagan (Hughes)
  • Studies of past earthquakes in Cascadia (Hughes)
  • Fraser lowlands borderlands (Belec)

Resources and Community Change

  • Understanding the impacts of climate change on Canada’s food cultures (Newman)
  • Sustainability of resource communities and community forestry (Fehr, Rhodes)

GIS and Remote Sensing

  • Using remote sensing to measure urban and peri-urban change in the US-Mexico borderlands (Shupe)

Urban Development

  • Urban agriculture (Newman, Fehr)
  • U-District development (Enns)
  • Housing Morphology in the Fraser Valley (Belec and Rhodes)
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